A new commission and City department has been created to focus on racial equity efforts in the City of Jackson. At their Tuesday, Sept. 9 meeting, the Jackson City Council voted to create the Racial Equity Commission and the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Both efforts will be overseen by the John Willis, the City’s current Chief Equity Officer. The Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will work with the City Manager to create, maintain and promote opportunities that enhance diversity, inclusion and equity within the City.
The Racial Equity Commission will function like other long-established City boards and commissions, consisting of five residents and three ex-officios nominated by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. This commission is tasked with reviewing City policies and procedures to ensure racial equity is a core element of government, along with making recommendations to officials on ways to promote racial justice and equity in Jackson.
Chief Equity Officer John Willis says he hopes to get several initiatives going as soon as possible. “The first step is doing a big assessment of where the community currently stands with equity efforts and identifying what work needs to be done,” Willis said. “The purpose of these efforts is to make Jackson a better place for everyone. We invite residents to be a part of this process by volunteering to serve on the Racial Equity Commission and participating in community discussions.”
The passage of these two efforts comes three months after the Jackson City Council declared racism a public health crisis in the City. In recent years, the City of Jackson has launched various diversity and racial equity efforts through staff trainings, events, passing a LGBTQ non-discrimination ordinance and creating a Chief Equity Officer position.
Those interested in serving on the Racial Equity Commission may submit an application online through cityofjackson.org.